A MINI rookie class driver in action during the examination stages, 2018 Dakar Rally.

In Photos: 40th Edition of the Gruelling Dakar Rally

Rally racing is considered the most difficult and extreme form of motorsports. The Dakar Rally, a benchmark of rally racing, is the most difficult race on the planet. Its 40th edition kicked off on 6 January 2018, when teams and individual contenders lined up for the thrill of their lives.

The Route

The route for this year’s event.
Dakar is an off-road endurance race with a much tougher terrain than the conventional rally races. The vehicles used in this race are designed especially for the event, customised to handle the difficult terrains throughout. From cars, bikes and trucks to even quad bikes, the Dakar rally hosts every kind of vehicle, divided by class.

The race is held in stages, with each stage varying from short distances to up to 800 – 900 kilometres per day.

This year’s rally will start in Peru and go all the way through Bolivia to end in Argentina, to cover a distance of almost 9,000 km, with a total of 335 vehicles participating. Out of those 9,000 km, 5,000 km are on a completely off-road dune section while the rest (4,000 km) is supposed to on tarmac. This year’s race will have 14 stages, out of which the racers will be driving at an altitude of more than 3,000 metres for about 5 days, depending on their individual speeds and capabilities.

This year’s rally will be held in four stages and is said to start in Peru and cross through Bolivia and Argentina. The route will be 5,000 km terrain (off-road) and 4,000 km tarmac (road), both divided into 7 stages each.

A Brazilian rider in action driving a Yamaha quad during the first stage.

The first stage of the 2018 event went across Lima and Pisco of Peru. The riders had to face the mighty deserts of Peru in the first stage.

Spectators fascinated by just the massive size of the DAKAR Iveco Camion.
Franco Caimi from Yamaha Racing pleases the crowd with a jump.
A challenge for those who go, a dream for those who stay behind.
Thierry Sabine, Founder, Paris Dakar
The Peugeot 3008 DAKAR in action during the first stage from Lima to Pisco.

The rally is being held in Peru after five years, the first time being in 2012-2013. But this time, it is said to be longer than the last. Dakar's sporting director said that the aim for this year's event is to explore the region to a better extent than the last time.

Two bike racers struggle to keep themselves balanced in the sand.
An airshot of the action in the deserts of Peru.
Coming back to Peru, and for longer than in 2012 and 2013, has given us the opportunity to explore unknown territory. Competitors will be faced with all the different sandscapes of the country, setting high standards right from the very start of the Dakar. The Bolivian stretch — physically demanding yet offering stunning landscapes — will test the adventurers to the limits of their endurance. But decisive challenges will still await them in Argentina, where the Dakar theoretically reaches its most difficult part with the Super Fiambala stage. This is where racers will need to stand out from the crowd if they hope to triumph in Córdoba.
Marc Coma, Sporting Director, Dakar
A Yamaha rider of rookie class in action during the first stage.
A KTM rider in action.
Pain Oliver of KTM gives the audience something to look at, if they can.
Iveco truck at the top of a dune.
Rajhi Yazeed of MINI in action.
An SxS class vehicle blows some sand.
A Toyota rookie driver struggles to get his off-roader out of the fine sand.

The second stage, on Sunday, 7 January, was completely desert. The start and end both being in Pisco. The second stage concluded with Adrien Metge of Sherco TVS (same team as CS Santosh, the first Indian to ever complete the Dakar) abandoning the race. The cars started first in the second stage.

Camps at the Dakar 2018 event.
Kicking up sand.
Two trucks battle it out.
The Volvo team helps their driver as his car gets stuck in the sand.
A truck speeds across the desert.
Quads are a separate class in the Dakar.
Honda rider pops his wheel.

The third stage of the Dakar Rally moved on from Pisco, ending in San Juan de Marcona. The 296-km special stage and a 208-km liaison section saw racers endure extreme terrain and battle sand and wind to make their way out of Pisco as Stage 3 ended.

A biker pops a wheelie during the third stage.

India’s CS Santosh had a tough stage 3 as he struggled with a fuel issue. Santosh dropped to the 56th place due to a loose fuel cap. India’s other bet, Aravind, finishing the stage in roughly 3 hours and 49 minutes, improved his position substantially as he finished the stage at 13th place, making his overall position 20th.

With cars breaking down and bikers dropping out from exhaustion, stage four saw a number of competitors put their hands up. The remaining few left Peru for Bolivia as the course moved from the dunes to paths near the ocean.

Racers battle it out on at the picturesque terrain.
A biker at the beach during the fourth stage of Dakar.

The 'paysage' (terrain), as they call it, got even more pleasing for us to look at while becoming more extreme and dangerous for the drivers.

Sand, sweat and adrenaline – Daniel Nosiglia Jager of KTM moto – is an example of what Dakar has to offer participants.
India’s Aravind KP tackles a sand dune in the deserts of Peru during the fourth stage of the Dakar Rally.
A broken down Peugeot off-roader.

New difficulties greeted the competitors on another long day during the fifth stage of the rally, with a 508 km journey to Arequipa and 266 km through miles of sand dunes around Tanaka on the rally's last day in Peru.

A quad biker coming down a sand dune. 
A Renault car passes through the mighty terrain.
Who will win?
Off-roaders battle it out among the deep sand in Peruvian desert.
A biker tackles a wet patch.

The sixth stage saw the racers move on from Peru to Bolivia. They were subjected to wet weather, witnessing rain for the first time since the beginning of the rally.

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